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Quickest Score Puts Network, Chargers Into Same Quandary

The one thing ABC was hoping the San Francisco 49ers didn’t do Sunday was score right away.

So what did the 49ers do? They scored the two quickest touchdowns in Super Bowl history.

“This is the worst thing that could have happened to the Chargers,” said Frank Gifford after Jerry Rice’s touchdown catch on the third play of the game.

It was also the worst thing that could have happened to ABC.

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The score was 7-0 after 1:24 and 14-0 after 4:55 as the nightmare ABC had feared quickly became a reality.

Pity NBC, which has the next Super Bowl. If the 49ers make it again, how is that network going to sell another blowout?

The last time the 49ers were in a Super Bowl, the score was 55-10.

These kind of games aren’t exactly what television and its big-buck sponsors like to see.

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At the start of the pregame show, ABC actually had some news to report. Bulletin: Rice was ill.

Hey, maybe San Diego had a chance after all?

Nah, the whole team would have had to have been ill.

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ABC seemed to know what was coming. The first time the announcing team of Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Gifford appeared, they introduced a segment called “Sports’ Biggest Upsets.”

Maybe it should have been called “Wishful Thinking.”

The guys speculated as to where a Charger victory would fit in among the 1969 New York Mets, the 1980 U.S. hockey team, the 1985 Villanova basketball team, Buster Douglas and the 1969 Super Bowl champion New York Jets.

Dierdorf said a Charger victory would have surpassed all except the ’80 hockey team. As things unfolded, he might have been right.

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The two-hour pregame show, as has been the case in recent years, was about one hour too long. But it did have its moments.

We learned that Steve Young once had a date with Marie Osmond when both were at BYU and he took her bowling.

We learned that Young’s father used to tell him that if he was feeling joy he wasn’t working hard enough.

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We learned from Bobby Bowden that Deion Sanders was “quiet as a lamb” when he first came to Florida State.

We enjoyed Hank Williams Jr. doing a rendition of “are you ready for some football?”

And you’ve got to admit Kathie Lee Gifford, who was introduced by husband Frank, did a nice job with the national anthem, although, as usual, she was too animated.

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Now for the down side. We didn’t need the skit Tim Allen, star of ABC’s “Home Improvement,” did with Detroit quarterback Dave Krieg and a couple of his teammates. This was nothing more than an ill-conceived promo.

The live shots from a science station in Antarctica were unnecessary, as was the shot of the game officials in their locker room before the game.

ABC got a bit too excited when there was a little incident during warm-ups involving the Chargers’ Eric Bieniemy and teammate Shawn Lee.

Bieniemy, going a little more than half speed after taking a handoff, got nailed by Lee. So he got up and shoved Lee.

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No big thing, but because the incident was caught on camera, ABC treated it as if it were a breaking story.

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A highlight of the player introductions was that the P.A. announcer was Paul Olden, now the radio voice of the New York Jets.

Olden, a graduate of Los Angeles Dorsey High, to this day might still be best known in these parts for the question he asked Tom Lasorda in 1978 when he worked for radio station KLAC: “What was your opinion of Kingman’s performance?”

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ABC overall did a pretty good job of covering the game. The problem was, it wasn’t much of a game to cover.

Michaels, so flawless you tend to notice even the most minute mistakes, had a ticky-tack problem right before the game started.

He said the Chargers trailed Pittsburgh by 10 points last week when actually the game was two weeks ago. But he had it right when he repeated the same comment later in the telecast.

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You knew the ABC cameras weren’t going to miss much when, on the opening kickoff, they picked up the Chargers’ Doug Miller grabbing the face mask of the 49ers’ Ted Popson away from the ball.

The penalty put the 49ers in position to score quickly, setting the stage for yet another Super Bowl blowout.


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